Assessing the "Lugano" E-Cat Report

A report on a second test of the E-Cat, released on October 8th 2014, from an independent third party seems to confirm massive excess heat observations from the first report and improves on it by including detailed analysis of the nickel powder fuel added at the beginning of the test and ash remaining after the test.

The test lasted for 32 days and was performed in Lugano, Switerland from 24 Feb 2014 to 29 Mar 2014.

Overview

A roll up of the assessment into three primary categories: what the report says about the performance of the E-Cat, the report's quality in terms of things like accuracy and reliability of the data, and the impact that the report can be expected to have.

Dimension Incomplete Fail Meh Good Awesome
E-Cat Performance Very hot, reasonably responsive and unambiguous excess energy.
Report Quality More attention to the energy balance and error analysis would have strengthened the test and report. Detailed analysis of the fuel and ash is excellent progress.
Report Impact Underwhelming so far, due to a variety of factors.

The report is of reasonably good quality, leaving little doubt about the energy consumed and produced by the E-Cat reactor. There was a control run, careful calibration and analysis of all significant sources of error. It bolsters the assertion from the first test that abundant excess energy is being produced by the "Hot-Cat." Its analysis of the reactor's ash is groundbreaking and seems to indicate that the E-Cat operates using some unknown types of nuclear reactions. But there is no doubt that nuclear reactions took place. Gauntlet thrown.

The reactor's operating characteristics are remarkable, with a very high temperature and healthy COP, even when not permitted to operate in self-sustain mode (that is, the testers decided to drive the reactor with electrical input for the entire test for stability amd simplicity reasons, even though that is not required). Simply stated the reactor, even throttled-down to suit the tester's needs, heralds an energy revolution.

The report's impact is likely to be lessened by some unfortunate circumstances. The independence of the investigators remains ambiguous; so far the report has not been published in a respected journal (though it has reportedly been submitted to the Journal of Physics D); the "chain of custody" of the nickel powder charge and after-test ash is dubious; the COP of 3+ is still low enough that measurement errors causing the conclusion of excess energy is not completely outside the realm of possibility; and so far no big names or institutions have trumpeted its findings. Nevertheless, this report should be enough for serious institutions and researchers to get off the fence. The reaction is proven, the clues are numerous and the potential, both monetary and for mankind, are staggering.

As circumstances change and there is time for additional analysis, the assessment will be updated accordingly.


E-Cat Performance

What does the report say about the performance characteristics of the E-Cat?

E-Cat Performance Incomplete Fail Meh Good Awesome
Conservative COP
The COP calculated under the most conservative assumptions.
< 1 > 1 3.2 to 3.6

(> 3)

> 6
Actual COP
Best estimate of the actual COP.
< 1 > 1 > 5 > 10
Reliability
Length of the longest continuous run with net energy output
< 1 day > 1 day 32 days

(>1 month)

> 6 months
Controllability
Demonstrated flexible temperature control, reasonable start and stop times
Not reported Small temp range, sluggish 140 deg C change over ~6 minutes

(Good temp range, responsive)

Instant on/off, complete temp control
Specific Energy
See Comparing Energy Sources
< 1 x 109 J/kg > 1 x 109 J/kg > 1 x 1011 J/kg 5.8 x 1012 J/kg

(> 1 x 1012 J/kg)

Self-sustaining
Did the E-Cat run for substantial periods of time without any energy input at all?
Not attempted No Yes, short periods Yes, long periods Yes, long periods with level energy output or better
Peak Temperature
How hot is the HotCat?
< 300 deg C > 300 deg C > 500 deg C ~1260 to ~1400 deg C
(> 750 deg C)


Report Quality

Aspects of the report that determine the trust that can be placed in its conclusions.

Report Quality Incomplete Fail Meh Good Awesome
Errors
Contains no calculation errors or bad assumptions.
Oops Minor Insignificant No errors found yet.

(None)

Error Analysis
Consideration of measurement errors and their cumulative effect on energy calculations.
None

Some

Potential errors for IR camera and electrical measurement devices analyzed.

(Sufficient)

Exhaustive
Data Integrity
Is it possible that somebody could have doctored or manipulated the results? Were the data recorded and protected from tampering?
Suspect Data recorded throughout but 'chain of evidence' for fuel charge open to criticism.

(Imperfect)

Solid Guaranteed
Data Availability
Are the test data made available to the public for independent analysis?
No talk of data being released.

(None)

Some Most All
Control
Were one or more control experiments performed?
None One Multiple Multiple, before and after.
Energy In - Calibration
Careful calibration of the devices that measure energy input to the E-Cat.
Sloppy Perfunctory Solid Extensive
Energy In - Comprehensive
Every possible significant energy transfer mechanism considered and measured.
Big holes Minor holes Electrical input nailed down. Insulation in all the right spots.

(All significant)

Thorough
Energy In - Redundant Measurement
Were redundant measurements taken by complementary measurement devices or techniques?
No Informally Yes 2 PCEs sandwiching the control unit. Multimeters to detect any direct current.

Yes, multiple types of devices.

Energy In - Limited
Is the energy available to the E-Cat limited in some unassailable way, such as a generator or battery with a maximum power or via monitoring of the facilty as a whole?
TBD. Limited only by TRIAC power regulator and wires used. No Approximately Yes Yes, and well under the observed energy out.
Energy Out - Calibration
Careful calibration of the devices that measure energy output from the E-Cat.
Sloppy Perfunctory Solid Extensive
Energy Out - Redundant Measurement
Were redundant measurements taken by complementary measurement devices or techniques?
Two IR cameras used to measure temperature of different parts of the system.

(No)

Informally Yes Yes, multiple types of devices.
Fuel Analysis
Was the nickel powder measured or analyzed?
No Mass Mass, before and after Detailed isotopic analysis of fuel and ash using 5 different techniques.

(Complete analysis)


Report Impact

Factors that will influence the impact the report will have.

Report Impact Incomplete Fail Meh Good Awesome
Investigator Unanimity
Did all of the investigators sign the report?
Minority Majority All But One All
Investigator Credentials
The level of respect the investigators warrant based on credentials and the institutions they represent.
Weak Satisfactory Accomplished Prestigous
Reviewer Unanimity
Did all of the reviewers bless the report?
No word from only known reviewers so far, Professors Bonetti and Passi from the University of Bologna. More reviewers may be identified in connection with journal publication. Minority Majority All But One All
Reviewer Credentials
The level of respect the reviewers warrant based on credentials and the institutions they represent.
Weak University of Bologna Professors

(Satisfactory)

Accomplished Prestigous
Publication
Where is the report published?
Elforsk Web Site, temporary parking spot JONP PENDING

(arXiv)

PENDING Journal of Physics D

(Recognized Journal)

Nature, Science
Independence - Financial
Who funded the study?
Rossi IH Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Elforsk AB (and Industrial Heat for some radiation detection equipment)

(3rd party)

Previously uninvolved 3rd party
Independence - Investigators
How many investigators from the last test participated again? Was Levi (the skeptics' prime suspect for conspiracy with Rossi) involved?
Same crew as last time including Levi (minus 1)

(Levi)

Mostly previous Mostly new All new
Independence - Site/Access
Tests conducted at a neutral site? Who had access?
IH facility Unaffialiated lab provided by Officine Ghidoni SA in Lugano, Switzerland. Rossi performed fuel charging and ash removal under supervision

(Neutral site. IH access.)

Neutral site. Controlled IH access. Neutral site. No IH access.
Industrial Heat Reaction
Does IH own the results and make any major announcements? Do heretofore silent partners emerge?
Silence Darden Owns Results in Interview

(Press Release)

Commercialization announcement Big reveal
Reviewer Reactions
How do the high profile double-checkers behave?
Silence Noncommital Supportive Full-throated defense
Media Reaction
Ripple, splash, wave or tsunami?
Same old Internet splash TV, newspaper wave Pervasive news story
Includes Theory
Do the investigators venture into theoretical explanations of E-Cat performance?
Yes, but wrong! No Some interesting conjecture, heavily caveated, based on the isotopic analysis.

(Tangentially)

Full on, with persuasive data

Fuel and Ash Analysis

Appendix 3, which shows the surface properties of the various isotopes of Lithium and Nickel in both the fuel and ash particles, and Appendix 4, which adds mass analysis are fascinating. They seem to beg for some additional analysis. The assumption here is that the numbers provided are truly representative of the fuel and ash. It's hard to know if that's 100% true given the small sample sizes and the details provided in the report. We're going to forge ahead anyway.

The Fuel Has Three Different Types of Particles

Energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) found three different types of particles in the fuel based on their surface content, one mainly nickel, a second mainly an aluminum oxide, and the third an iron oxide (see A3 Figure 3). Using the inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectroscopy (ICP-ES) results presented at the end of Appendix 4, the percentage of total mass contributed by each particle is estimated.

Particle Primary Element Secondary Element Other/Trace Elements Estimated % By Mass
"Nickel" Particle Nickel (mostly Ni-58, Ni-60) Carbon Oxygen, Aluminum 55.0
"Aluminum" Particle Aluminum Oxygen Carbon, Chlorine, Nickel 4.4
"Iron" Particle Iron Oxygen Silicon, Carbon, Chromium, Manganese 49.6

The Ash Has Two Different Types of Particles

Using the same techniques as above, two different types of particles were found in the ash extracted from the reactor after the test was finished, a nickel particle and a oxygen/carbon/silicon particle (see A3 Figure 4).

Particle Primary Element Secondary Element Other/Trace Elements Estimated % By Mass
"Nickel" Particle Nickel (99% Ni-62) - Oxygen, Carbon, Silicon, Aluminum 95.8
"Carbon Silicon" Particle Oxygen Carbon Silicon 4.2

Nickel Particles in the Ash are Larger and Smoother than in the Fuel

Images from a scanning electron microscope presented in Appendix 3, Figures 3 and 4 indicate that the nickel particles change from craggy coral-like structures generally 50 Μm or smaller in characteristic dimension to larger smoother blobs in the ash. In the one example presented the characteristic dimension has grown about six times and the volume much more than that.

Particle Characteristic Size (Μm)
Fuel - Nickel 50
Ash - Nickel 300
Fuel - Iron 80
Fuel - Aluminum 150
Ash - Other 100

Nickel Particles in the Ash are Almost Pure Nickel-62

Nickel-62, which constitutes only about 4% of the nickel found in the fuel, dominates the nickel found in the ash, clocking in at around 99%. The mass fraction (ICP-MS) and surface measurements (SE/EDs and ToF/SIMS) are in close agreement on this issue.

The Ash is Almost Entirely Nickel

The ICP-AES results indicate that the percentage of nickel in the ash, by mass, is approximately 95.8% (versus around 55% of the fuel).

The Iron and Aluminum Seem to be Surface Coatings of Particles with Similar Backbones

The fuel shows three types of fuel particle but only two types of ash particle. One of the ash particles is clearly derived from the initial nickel particle in the fuel. A close examination of the spectrum of the iron and aluminum fuel particles indicates that they have similar carbon and oxygen content and that there is also silicon in the iron particle. In the ash that same carbon, oxygen and silicon profile is seen for the non-nickel particle. This clearly indicates that the iron has been stripped away. Either the same holds true for the aluminum particle and the investigators didn't catch that there was a third ash particle that lacked silicon, or the silicon gets used up for that type of particle.

Lithium Everywhere and Nowhere

The surface analyses indicate a spike in the amount of Lithium-6 (and a reduction in the amount of much more abundant in nature Lithium-7). The mass analysis however indicates that the overall amount of Lithium is reduced from just over 1% of the fuel to barely anything in the ash (0.03%). The ToF-SIMS analysis indicates that Lithium is present on the surface of all three types of fuel particle, but especially on the nickel particles. If these seemingly contradictory data are correct it may indicate that Lithium-7 is liberated from fuel particles as they are "eaten," participate in whatever reactions are taking place, becoming Lithium-6 before being consumed completely, but that the intermediate Lithium-6 is spewed around enough to be present on the surface of all ash particles.

ALL YOUR METAL ARE BELONG TO US

As impossible as it seems, the E-Cat, according to the data presented, seems to generate Nickel-62 using non-Nickel-62, iron, aluminum and other metals as feed stock. In the ash the iron and aluminum fuel particles have been completely strip-mined, leaving only their carbon, oxygen and silicon metalloid cores. The original nickel isotopes (mainly Ni-58 and Ni-60) almost disappear completely, indicating that while some fuel nickel particles may serve as nucleation points (and hence some of the original isotopes survive in their interior), most are consumed as part of the reaction itself. Smaller amounts of manganese and magnesium meet the same fate.

The First Nanoengineering Assembly Line?

How do you create wads of Nickel-62 from just about any old metal, nickel or not? Easy. Grab yourself a metal nucleus, pump it full of protons and/or neutrons and don't let go until it reaches Nickel-62, the element/isotope with the highest nuclear binding energy known. Done. Or maybe it's more like squash and settle. That is, perhaps the E-Cat forces metal nuclei to fall into Nickel clusters with such energy that it's like a Nickel planet being bombarded with high speed metal nuclei asteroids and the constant overwhelming pressure forces the nuclei at the surface to morph into Nickel-64 -- the lowest energy well that those nuclei can find. This is a general nuclei squashing reaction, not specific fission or fusion reaction chains. The feed stock is too varied for that.

Somehow the E-Cat is creating proton and neutron soup at the surface of nickel blobs (or perhaps crevices on the surface of those nickel blobs) and the soup is settling to Nickel-62.

Astounding! But that's the story the data seems to be telling.

No Hydrogen or Helium Data is Killing Us

What happens to the hydrogen and perhaps helium in the reactor in light of the conclusions above, may be of prime importance to understanding the reactions in detail. The observations above all point to the lightest nuclear particles as the prime suspects in making things happen. The action appears to happen at nuclei boundaries with transfers of light particles from donor metals to nickel sinks.

So Lithium is Not the Key?

Lithium may serve an important catalytic purpose, perhaps facilitating movement of nuclear particles from feed stock to its Nickel-62 final destination but on its own Lithium does not provide enough raw nuclear material to be anything more than just another metal that gets mostly eaten by the Nickel-62 monster (though apparently not quite with the same efficiency as the other metals consumed). The drop in Lithium-7 and the appearance of Lithium-6 might indicate that it can make a neutron available when necessary. But it could also be that Lithium-6 is liberated from the fuel particles as they are eaten (Li-6 occurs naturally at a 6% abundance in nature) and the Lithium-6 does not participate in the reactions, at least not at the same rate as Lithium-7.

Rossi Surprised by Nickel-62

In a comment in his journal Rossi said he expected the Lithium-7 burning but that the extent of the consoldiation of the nickel to Nickel-62 was a surprise. This is interesting in at least two ways. First it indicates that Industrial Heat has been doing their own isotopic analysis and probably has a more complete picture of what's going on than we find in the test report. That is to be expected but it's nice to get confirmation. Second is that this might be an indication that the ash sample the professors analyzed is not perfectly representative of the ash the reactor actually creates. So a note of caution.

Gallium 69 is a Spectator

Both the fuel and ash contain an element at 69 u, presumed to be stable Gallium-69. The amount of Ga-69 on the surface of fuel and ash particle appears to be the same, unchanged by the reactions.

The Nuclear Binding Energy Checks Out

Using the data generated from the spectrometry and spectroscopy analysis reported in Appendices 3 and 4, it is possible to construct an accounting of the number and type of nuclei in the fuel and ash. Because the binding energies of each element and isotope are well known, the energy held by nuclei in the fuel can be compared to the energy held by the nuclei in the ash. Doing so, with some reasonable assumptions shows approximately 37% more energy released than measured by the investigators with the IR cameras. This is a stunningly consistent result, well within the error margin of the analysis.

The speadsheet containing the energy calculations is available for viewing and comment: Fuel/Ash Energy Analysis

Significance

The significance of this energy analysis is that it relates the expected energy, based on fundamental analysis of the nuclei seen in the fuel and ash, with the energy observed during the experiment. That they are in fairly close agreement is both expected and remarkable. It is expected because science demands a cause for any effect. If the ash had contained instead, for example, evidence of only surface events on otherwise unchanged particles, there would not have been enough changed nuclei to support the observed energy. The theoretical energy release would have been off by a couple of orders of magnitude and there would be a mystery (or a serious indication of faulty measurements or fraud). It is remarkable because it establishes a symmetry of 'impossible' observations, relating unexpected excess heat to unexpected nuclear events with a tight correlation. Both lack a convincing theoretical explanation at this point, but they support each other well. Direct evidence of a massive number of unexplained nuclear events is the smoking gun for which scientists have long been waiting.

Key Assumptions and Caveats

The spectrometry and spectroscopy in the report provide an incomplete accounting of the elements in the fuel and ash, so some assumptions had to be made in order to perform the calculations.
  • About 4% of the ash is neither nickel nor fuel (the report states that iron was not found in the ash). This ~4% is assumed to not take part in any of the nuclear reactions. This accounts for the backbones of the iron and aliminum particles found in the fuel. The ash spectroscopy shows these particles stripped of iron and aluminum, with only carbon, oxygen and some silicon remaining.
  • 60% of the fuel is found to be nickel, aluminum or copper. If 4% is inert, the remaining 36% is assumed to be mostly iron as indicated by the spectroscopy in Appendix 3.
  • All of the added Ni-62 in the ash is assumed to be synthesized from the consumed nucleons of the other nickel isotopes, aluminum, lithium and iron. The masses of the first three are measured in the report. Thus the amount of iron can be set so the mass of the active part of the fuel exactly matches the mass of the nickel in the ash.
  • Trace elements are ignored, with the assumption that representing their nuclei as iron nuclei is good enough for the purposes of this analysis.
  • Sample sizes were only 2.13 mg and represent only ~0.2% of the fuel and ash. Extrapolating results to the full 1g of fuel and ash is reasonable but, especially in the case of the ash, may introduce some sample bias.
  • The samples are assumed to be legitimate, representing the actual fuel used during E-Cat operation and the actual ash extracted after the reactor was turned off and opened. It has been noted that Rossi was involved both in reactor set up and shutdown. He is assumed to not be an evil master magician who masterminds the largest consipiracy in the history of mankind.
  • The calculations and conclusions are fairly sensitive to the amount of iron. If the assumptions made to set the iron level in the fuel are incorrect then the correlation between observed energy and calculated energy becomes less persuasive. A sensitivity analysis is included at the bottom of the spreadsheet.

Start Your Replication Engines

Aside from providing clues about the reactions inside the E-Cat, the report seems to provide enough information about fuel content so that others may make a reasonable attempt to replicate it. Organizations like MFMP are already exploring how to adapt their experiments to factor in these new revelations. This may turn out to be one of the most important aspects of the report, eventually leading to replication and increased competition in this emerging market.

Conclusive Proof of Nuclear Events, Almost

Even though there is no ready explanation for the results, the clear conclusion is that nuclear events are taking place. So if the ash data stands up to scrutiny then we have, finally, an end to the debate about scams, hoaxes, incompetence and the endless character assassinations of all involved. That's an important "if" though. Unfortunately, because Rossi extracted the ash from the reactor, there is a plausible (if very unlikely) scenario where he is an evil master magician swapping in fake ash for the real stuff undetected even while being observed. So we'll have to endure the nonsense accusations for a little while longer. There is also the fact that nobody else can get their hands on an E-Cat to try and replicate these results. Science requires lots of independent replications to build confidence in unexpected results and we can't have that yet.

He Faked It!

Yeah. No. If one were going to try and fake some fusion or fission reactions this is not how one would do it. This conversion of a bunch of different stuff into Nickel-62 is going to require significant changes to our knowledge of nuclear physics -- if it proves to be true. This is not the easy route for a scammer to take. Not to mention allowing scientists to run your trick device for a month and then attempting to swap in fake ash while under observation. So people, please. Learn how to distinguish the physically possible from the probable.


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